The Monument | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Monument

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The Monument, Jaboa Theatre Company and DePaul University, at Victory Gardens Theater. Colleen Wagner earned Canada's top drama honors in 1996 with this penetrating two-person script examining wartime responsibility, revenge, salvation, and forgiveness. A young soldier who's raped and murdered 23 women during the Serbian-Bosnian conflict is tried and released into the hands of one victim's mother. Alternating between cruelty and kindness, she tells him lies (or truths?) about an attack on his girlfriend until he breaks down and reveals where his victims are buried. The play's potency lies in its constant provocation: we side with the mother, but the soldier does make us question whether she's as pure and ethical as she seems.

Anne Wakefield and Jason Denaszek tackle the difficult roles of Mejra and Stetko with skill. Denaszek brings out Stetko's youth and cowardice, and Wakefield's anguish when the soldier talks about Mejra's daughter is riveting. The actors convincingly deliver the script's ideas and most of the emotions, but the production fails to make the violence visceral. No fight choreographer is credited, and the physical attacks we see are entirely implausible. Director James Ostholthoff is also determined to keep the show moving quickly even during scenes that shouldn't be glossed over: they're meant to elicit discomfort, challenging us to wonder what we would do. Failing to use the power of silence, this production underplays the characters' sorrow and revulsion.

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